Be Careful What You Wish For

I've been thinking a lot lately about wanting things. How it seems that the single most important factor to us getting things is how much we want it. And how the single most harmful part of our lives, to our self-confidence, to our emotional stability, to our mental facilities, is wanting things that we don't end up getting. Now let's be quite clear. I'm not making a plea for more entitlement. I think we've got plenty of that to go around, thank you. What I mean are those times when we set our hopes upon something happening, not because we think we deserve it, but because it could be good. Because just the idea of it makes us a little bit happier than we were before.

Not getting those things, the things we don't have a right to claim but can see just over the top of the next hill from our valley vantage point, has more negative side-effects than any doctor prescribed medicine.

It seems the simple answer to this problem would be to stop wanting. Stop hoping. The more spiritual among us may even venture to call this "being content." Perhaps that's what this is. Maybe it really is the simplest way to better living.

But I have another solution. It's based on absolutely nothing working for me for a good number of years, so you can tell I'm a worthwhile expert in the subject.

You ready for my remedy?

Let's want things all the more. Let's burn our candles at both ends until we're all flame and no more wax and illuminate every inch of darkness and uncertainty and worry that threatens to consume us. We will light a path for the losers like us, the other ones who want and want and never get what they want and still want again anyway.

Let's beat our hopes against the rocks with such consistency and ferocity that even the rocks give in. And if they don't, we will crash into them again and again anyway, because if we can win in nothing else, we will win in the act of determination. The stubborn bullheadedness to believe that enough is never enough.

That our station can always be improved. That bettering ourselves is not only not selfish, it's incredibly selfless. Because if we really make things more worthwhile for us, we make it more worthwhile for them too. They won't be able stand near our passion without catching a spark and needing to ignite too.

And anyone, any loser like us, who dares to burn this brightly for this long will surely find it in ourselves to give up too. Good. Give up. Decide you're done with the world for a while. Curl up in a ball on the floor and wonder why you woke up in the morning. Spend an entire day with nothing but your Netflix account and a bag of dark chocolate M&M's. You'll feel like all is lost because of how many times you've, well, lost.

Do you know what that means? It means you still want it. Beneath the pain and the disappointment and the just knowing that you've made the biggest mistake in your life by deciding that some things are worth chasing after even if it takes your whole life, buried below all of that is the stunning realization that even though you feel like you'd rather be, you're not dead.

You lived through this one just like you lived through the last one and with a little luck, you'll see the next miserable failure through to the end too.

Now, I'm not promising you that this way of life leads anywhere stunning. I can't tell you that living with this unending lust for nothing but the very best will ever put any money in your pocket or food on your table or women in your lap as you're in the driver's seat of your Maserati.

All I can tell you is that not too many people have died of disappointment. There's some, to be sure, but your odds are good. Better than 50%, probably.

And if your odds are at least that good to actually get some of the grand things you scheme for, and it seems like they could be, I don't really know, then maybe that's a risk worth taking. What else have you got this life for? To "be content"?

Yeah, okay. Sure. Because if there's one thing said about the people that change the world, it's that they sat back, content, waiting for life to head their way. They never rushed headlong into certain disaster like I'm saying we should do.

So that's my proposal. My completely unsimple, overly painful solution to the problem that plagues every waking hour of an unlucky like me. Take my hand and let's go burning into the dark night that's before us. Maybe we'll find something together. Maybe we'll be the waves, beating against the shore for the rest of our lives.

But even the water eventually turns stone into sand. I think I like our odds.